Approximately 3,000 properties in Manningham are not connected to a sewer system and these properties utilise septic tank systems to treat domestic wastewater.

A septic tank system treats and disposes of waste from toilets, bathrooms, laundries and kitchens and it is generally made up of:

  • primary treatment – a septic (or settling) tank to separate liquid from solid waste.
  • secondary treatment – a sand filter or treatment plant that treats liquid waste from the primary treatment tank into a suitable standard for disposal.
  • disposal – disposing of treated wastewater into on-site absorption drains or via a drip irrigation system.

Approximately 60 per cent of properties in Manningham discharge treated effluent directly to stormwater, with the remaining 40 per cent of properties containing effluent on-site using absorption drains or a drip irrigation system.

For more information, view the Icon for application/pdf septic friendly factsheet (749.69 KB).

New EPA Regulations

The Environment Protection Act 2017 creates a General Environmental Duty (GED) that applies to all Victorians from 1 July 2021. The GED requires anyone conducting an activity that poses risks to human health and the environment from pollution and waste, to minimise those risks.
If you own or use an onsite wastewater management system (OWMS), including septic tank systems and secondary treatment systems, the GED applies to you. It also applies to how you construct, install, alter, operate and maintain the system, deal with faults or system failures and manage your waste. 

Icon for application/pdf owners guidance - onsite wastewater management systems (146.61 KB)

Sand Filter Exemptions

For the purposes of section 50(2)(b) of the Environment Protection Act 2017, please be advised that your permit application for an on-site wastewater treatment system that includes a sand filter treatment plant will not be complete until such time as EPA has granted an exemption under section 459 of that Act from providing a certificate of conformity. Council will submit your section 459 exemption application to EPA on your behalf. EPA must make a decision to grant or refuse the exemption application within 15 days of receipt. If EPA grant the exemption, Council has 42 days to assess your complete permit application.

Icon for application/msword Section 459 exemption application for sand filter (88.64 KB)

Septic system installation

Installation or alteration to a septic tank system requires a permit in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 2017. This includes any home extension or landscaping that may impact on the system.

Systems designed to discharge less than 5000 litres of sewage per day (such as a domestic home) need to be approved by Council. Systems designed to discharge more than 5000 litres of sewage per day (such as a commercial operation) need to be approved by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

An Icon for application/pdf Application to Install or Alter Septic System (604.6 KB) can be downloaded, completed and submitted with detailed plans and the appropriate fee to our Approvals and Compliance Unit, Manningham Council, PO Box 1, Doncaster, Victoria 3108.

Details of the proposed installation should include dimensions of all boundaries of the site, location and dimensions of all buildings or proposed buildings, streams, water tanks, tennis courts, swimming pool excavations, driveways, stormwater drains, water pipes, existing septic tank systems, etc.

For more information, please refer to the EPA's septic tanks code of practice or our Icon for application/pdf design options for the installation of septic systems (604.6 KB). A permit must be granted prior to any works commencing by a registered contractor or plumber.

Building surveyors have a legal responsibility to ensure that sites in non-sewered areas are suitable to contain all waste onsite prior to issuing a Building Permit. Progress inspections of construction works will be carried out by an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) throughout the installation. The septic system cannot be used until a final inspection has been performed and a Certificate to Use issued by Council.

On-site waste water management fees and charges

For a full list of fees and charges relating to septic tank systems, please refer to the Icon for application/pdf Septic tank fees and charges (106.2 KB)

Community sewerage program

Yarra Valley Water has recently provided new sewerage services to Templestowe, Wonga Park and Warrandyte. Property owners are still legally responsible for maintaining their septic system until the sewer is available for connection. Sewerage services are currently being constructed in Donvale and Yarra Valley Water is undertaking an innovative project to deliver sewerage services to the Park Orchards community.

In areas where sewer services are expected within three years, owners need to continue regular maintenance and replace the necessary components where these are found to be defective rather than upgrade the whole septic system.

Connection costs

The Sewerage Backlog Program is primarily funded by Yarra Valley Water. However, there are some costs that are the responsibility of each property owner in Backlog areas.

  • The normal contribution fee of $500 will be waived if you connect within 12 months of sewer becoming available.
  • Owners are responsible for the costs to connect the sanitary drain from the existing septic system to the new sewerage connection point.
  • Ongoing water and sewerage charges from Yarra Valley Water.

For more information, view: Yarra Valley Water - connection costs 

Is sewer connection compulsory?

We encourage residents to connect to the new sewer service. Under current legislation, we are required to refer properties, which do not effectively contain wastewater on-site, to Yarra Valley Water to initiate sewer connection.

Under existing arrangements, it is unlikely that properties would be obliged to connect to sewer providing they can demonstrate the effective management of their septic system and the sustainable re-use and containment of all secondary treated wastewater on site via an approved drip irrigation system. They will, however, need to pay service charges to Yarra Valley Water once a connection point is provided.

Can I subdivide my land when the sewer is provided?

We are not intending to change existing land use zoning classifications as part of the sewer backlog process. Any future subdivision requests must be considered through the normal planning application process. Sewer connections will be based on current allotment occupancy rates.

How will the sewer affect my property?

Yarra Valley Water will develop the final location of the sewer system in consultation with the community. In most cases the sewer will be provided under road reserves with a single connection point to each property boundary. Manningham Council and Yarra Valley Water intend to co-ordinate all works in affected areas as much as possible to minimise disruption to residents.

What are the benefits of connecting to the sewer?

Connecting to the sewer will ultimately save residents time and money on ongoing septic system maintenance, free up land currently occupied by septic systems for other uses (tennis courts, tree planting etc), and is better for the local environment, public health and waterways.

Decommissioning septic tanks

Following connection to a reticulated sewer, septic tanks must be removed from the ground and backfilled or decommissioned.

In order to decommission the tank, the contents must firstly be pumped out by a licensed sewage sludge contractor and the inlet and outlet pipes permanently sealed.

The bottom of the tank must then be broken by punching a hole through the base, and the lids and any parts of the tank walls that sit above ground level collapsed into the tank.

The tank must then finally be filled with clean earth or sand.

This process can also be followed for chlorination pits on the outlet of Sandfilters, as these may have a direct branch connection to the stormwater drain.

Septic tank maintenance

Poorly maintained, under sized or sub-standard septic wastewater treatment systems are widely recognised as posing a significant risk to the quality of local waterways. Pathogens and indicator organisms (such as E.Coli) and elevated levels of nutrients such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus enter our waterways from septic leachate and effluent discharging directly into the stormwater system.

Regular maintenance of septic systems is necessary to ensure the effective treatment of wastewater, to protect your health and reduce any impact on the environment. Regular maintenance will also extend the life of the septic system and reduce operating and replacement costs as a result of system failure.

Maintenance involves regular inspection, pumping sludge from septic tanks, replenishing or replacing sand filters and removing blockages. Owners are legally obliged to maintain their septic system in a satisfactory working order including pumping the tank out at least every three years and containing all wastewater within the boundary of their property.

The different types of septic system each have specific maintenance requirements. It’s important for owners to understand their own system.

Septic tank cleaning

Internet search or look in the Yellow Pages under ‘septic tank cleaning services’ for specialist companies that pump out septic tanks and grease traps.

When you have your tank cleaned you will need to notify our Approvals and Compliance Team, by filling out the Notify Council of Septic Tank Clean form pr by emailing a copy of the invoice/receipt to

Type of systemDescriptionMaintenance
Septic tankA concrete tank buried away from the house. Solid wastes settle out and are retained in the tank, leaving the liquid waste to flow through. Most septic tanks are all-purpose tanks (two chamber settling tanks with a baffle), however some manningham properties have a split system, which is a combination of a smaller single chamber tank for toilet wastes (W.C wastes only septic tank) and a grease trap connected to the kitchen waste.Pump out tank every three years. Check the level of sludge in your tank annually.
Submit notification of Septic Tank Clean to Council
See below for other requirements for septic systems with a treatment plant.
Be aware of the requirements in the original septic tank permit from Manningham Council.
Grease trapA grease trap separates fatty wastes and oils from liquids. Grease traps have a concrete lid and are found outside near the kitchen sink.Inspect regularly (at least every 3 months). Pump out as needed, usually every 6 – 12 months for domestic use
Sand filtersLiquid effluent flows from the septic tank into a sand filter or an effluent disposal trench (see below). A sand filter is like a sandpit under grass with a concrete pit at either end. Effluent filters through the sand and into a pit before discharging.Don’t concrete or build over a sand filter, cover with more earth or drive over it.
Regularly check the concrete pit at the start of the sand filter to ensure that water leaving the septic tank is not high in solids. This may be a sign that the septic tank is full.
Effluent disposal trenches, e.g. drains or absorption trenchesUsed on larger properties. A series of trenches (min 10m long) with a slotted pipe beneath a layer of crushed rock and earth.Protect trenches from surface waters, traffic and livestock. Trenches can’t be built or concreted over. Regularly inspect the condition of trenches at the distribution pit on the inlet of the agricultural drains.
Treatment plantsUnderground aeration chambers with mechanical parts.Need an electricity supply and a warning light or alarm at the house. Treatment plants need servicing as per the EPA approval for your treatment plant.

If a treatment system discharges effluent into a stormwater drain, the treated effluent must be regularly tested by a National Association of Testing Laboratories-approved laboratory. Look in the Yellow Pages under ‘Analysts’. we will notify the owner when this analysis is due and requires test results within 14 days.

For more information, please download: Icon for application/pdf A Guide to Septic System Operation and Maintenance (2.43 MB) or Icon for application/pdf Septic maintenance fact sheet (524.46 KB) or contact us

Septic tanks during power outages

If you suspect your wastewater system has been affected by a power outage, contact a licensed plumbing practitioner or service agent to have it assessed.

Until you are certain your septic system is working properly, minimise your water use. Do not enter the pump chamber: gases from decaying sewage inside pump chambers are toxic and can be fatal.

Owners are responsible to ensure their systems are operating effectively and not posing a health risk.

During an emergency, owners should contact their service agent to have the septic tank assessed and pumped out if required.

Older systems are usually gravity feed / sand filters and will not be affected by a power outage.

Residents can arrange a private contractor to pump their tanks in an effort to reduce the likeliness of overflow during a power outage.

Residents can hire or purchase a generator to power vital appliances and septic tanks, to enhance their resilience to power outages.

Find out more about septic tanks in flood affected areas.

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